Anthony Bourdain, 1956-2018

Food is a big part of travel. For some people, it’s the most exciting part.

Unfortunately, food is the part of life in which I am least adventurous. I wish I was open to try anything once, but if somethings looks weird (seafood), if it is made from weird parts of the animal (boiled heads of sheep) or if it’s an animal that I never associated with eating (guinea pigs), I won’t even try it. I don’t think anyone is following my blog for its food section.

But there were two food shows on TV that I enjoyed watching: No Reservations and Parts Unknown, both with Anthony Bourdain.

From a food perspective, I liked his focus on simple dishes and on street food.

Because I don’t want to spend too much money and time on food, I often just sit by the side of the road and order a plate of whatever is steaming in a huge pot. Thus, I discovered falafel in Israel, arancini in Sicily and trancapechos in Bolivia. Each of them a better dish than what you get in fancy restaurants.

But what I really liked about Anthony Bourdain’s shows is that they went beyond the food and were actually far more serious than most other travel shows. He never annoyed viewers with the 100th show about the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre, but he went into the side streets, meeting up with people and always hoped that he would be invited to their home.

Yet, he managed to address serious issues, too, bringing them to an audience that might initially only have been interested in food. Like my blog, in a way, that strives to be far more than a travel blog.

Anthony Bourdain tried with all his might to teach people that the world is, first of all, not dangerous, but interesting, including the countries that often have a dangerous ring to them. I hope that message won’t be lost with the loss of Anthony Bourdain.

Because everybody seems to assume that his death was a suicide (or was it Russia, once again?), I should add some thoughts on that.

I am surprised by the number of people expressing their surprise. “He always seemed so full of life.” Actually, I always saw someone more thoughtful and somber. But even if someone was always outwardly happy and energetic, what do people expect? Do you think anyone who is fed up with life, or maybe just bored by it, has to sit in a corner, crying?

Another reaction that pisses me off is the jump to a “mental health issue”, often insinuating that he should have sought “help” and if he had done so, he would still be alive. It’s nobody’s bloody business if someone else wants to be alive or not. It’s their decision and their decision alone. The reason may not necessarily be a troubling psychological issue. The decision to end one’s life at a time and in a manner of one’s own choosing can be perfectly rational. I actually have a lot of respect for people who make that ultimate decision.

As always, people are looking for signs. “How could we have spotted it?”, apparently believing there is one tell-tale sign for someone harboring thoughts of suicide. There isn’t, and until people understand that not everyone thinks like them, they won’t ever be ready to spot those signs. If it’s possible at all. Because where someone sees a fulfilled life, someone else doesn’t. Where someone sees a point in living, someone else is bored. Where someone is afraid of death, someone else knows that suicide is the one decision you will never regret.

And don’t ever be distracted by someone’s “adventurous attitude” to life. After all, seeking out adventures (and eating crazy food) is a way of gambling with death every day and every dish. Sometimes, I have the feeling as if suicide by adventure is the only socially accepted form of suicide.

(This article was also published on Medium.)

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About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a journalist, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Death, Food, Life, Media, Travel and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Anthony Bourdain, 1956-2018

  1. Margaret says:

    Andreas —

    >”Actually, I always saw someone more thoughtful and somber.”

    Yes, Mr. Bourdain was so thoughtful that he decided to kill himself along with all of his thoughts…. Hmm.

    >”Do you think anyone who is fed up with life, or maybe just bored by it, has to sit in a corner, crying?”

    So bored he left his daughter now crying in a corner…. What a wonderful guy.

    >”Another reaction that pisses me off is the jump to a “mental health issue”, often insinuating that he should have sought “help” and if he had done so, he would still be alive.

    I think it’s very likely that anyone who kills themselves in spite of their family and friends is indeed ill. Furthermore, the crux of self deception is not being able to understand that you’re deceiving yourself with untruths. Helping someone break free from self deception is noble, not a vice.

    >”It’s nobody’s bloody business if someone else wants to be alive or not.”

    I can tell you’ve never loved anyone in your entire life.

    >”It’s their decision and their decision alone.”

    Am I wrong, or have I a skewed view on your nihilism?

    >”The reason may not necessarily be a troubling psychological issue. The decision to end one’s life at a time and in a manner of one’s own choosing can be perfectly rational.”

    Having reasons is categorically different from acting rationally. Sorry, try again.

    >”I actually have a lot of respect for people who make that ultimate decision.”

    You have a lot of respect for people who kill themselves?? By the nine divines I hope you cultivate a little self worth, otherwise you might end up dead.

    >”As always, people are looking for signs”

    Let’s see here, so, Anthony Bourdain: snorted cocaine, shot heroin, smoked x, y, z other drugs including tobacco, drank enough to be an alcoholic, traveled around the world living out of motels, ate whatever tasted good, and slept with whomever looked good. Heck…do you need more signs??!!

    >”There isn’t, and until people understand that not everyone thinks like them, they won’t ever be ready to spot those signs.”

    Yep, gotta get ready to spot those signs even though as you say….”it’s nobody’s bloody business if someone else wants to be alive or not.”

    >”If it’s possible at all.”

    Probably not possible for you, seeing as you’ve all but given up on reading the signs, either in yourself or in others.

    To me suicide is like scoring an own goal in sports. You’re definitely scoring, but you’re also punishing yourself, your teammates, and the game as a whole. I think a lot of suicidal people just want to score, no matter how they do it, and don’t want to think about a draw, or the possibility of winning the game. And although I don’t think that life’s just a game, if someone’s able to idealize and romanticize suicide and death, then they have it in them to channel those same ideals and romances into living a life worth living.

    • You seem to think that being alive is better than being dead. I don’t share that premise, and I don’t see why your preference should be universal.

      As to his daughter: everyone will die eventually. Most children will have to experience their parents’ death.

    • Anonymous says:

      „It’s nobody’s bloody business if someone else wants to be alive or not. It’s their decision and their decision alone.“

      One indeed owns his own life. If I decided I wanted to end my life, I would do it, however, timing is everything.

  2. Like you, I don’t watch coolinary shows, but I did watch Burdain’s whenever I had an opportunity. And I think that you really explained why I liked him too. I really share your opinion that his decision to commit suicide (if this is so) is absolutely none of anybody’s bussiness.

    • Luckily for me, I missed many of his shows, so I still have something to watch for months.

    • Margaret says:

      Armina —

      Having children should put certain choices out of reach. All these celebrations of Bourdain (and Kate Spade) overlook or barely mention their daughters.

      Leaving a child behind with a conscious suicide is not, perhaps, unforgivable, given years of retrospective. But it’s a choice that violates the fundamental parental creed.

    • I agree that not having children is better for everybody, but on the other hand, you can’t let it limit your life forever. I think it’s a valid argument when there is a minor child that otherwise has to join an orphanage. But if the child is an adult, it will inherit millions and be free.

    • Anonymous says:

      Mr. Bourdain‘s shows are generally interesting, I have watched many of them, and I recommend them, but they are not life-changing, as some eulogists imply. He took care to reveal to the audience when the producer(s) staged something or were trying something phony, which I respect.

      Good lord food is not everything, people. Some of this is tantamount to worship of defecation. When and where it brings one closer to worthwhile humans, great, but get a grip . . .

    • I like tasty food better than non-tasty food, but I also don’t get the over-emphasization of food. In the end, I just want to be full and a few slices of bread can do that.
      What I understand even less is how people can go on about coffee for hours.

    • Anonymous says:

      Indeed. If smooth peanut butter were the same price as Beluga caviar, there would be food writers blogging endlessly about its subtleties and sublime texture. Because it costs 1,59 € at Rewe, smooth peanut butter is dismissed as lowbrow.

      I live in the Land of Bread and get as much enjoyment from nicely toasted, slice plastic-bag bread as I do from the local bakery‘s proudest (and most expensive) offerings.

      False economies are self-imposed mind control. The common sense view: If you like it, it is good. Food (and coffee!) worship is bizarre, along with wine connoisseurship.

  3. Mattej says:

    I have read your blog since longer than I can remember. I agree with the notion that if someone wants to kill themselves, they will and there is nothing one can do. I had a brother-in-law do it once (hanging) and actually survived with minimal damage and then did it for “good” a year later. Friends, lovers, family and for me it seems no one can stop them. It can even be a spur of the moment thought that lived inside one for years.

    My interest is that since you left your “lawyer’s life” in German almost a decade ago and have landed in your 40s, do you feel you have made the right choice (if there is a right choice in life) and do you ever feel you would or could go back to the office (cell) with the mortgage and wife you may divorce as some people were not meant to be married. I ask because recently I met 4 friends around your age and all left 200k jobs a year and went to an island to get their health back, their sanity and work online. I have 10 years on you and am at the WTF period in life where I think I can live anywhere due to holding 4 citizenships and stay stuff corporate life and the trappings of the white picked fence etc (normal life).

    Will you continue being a happy hermit and does writing about his suicide make you think more that your life choice is one that hits home and tells you that life is to be lead as an adventure and minimalistic. Just curious as I am seeing the light and find that if one can do this lifestyle — it is a blessing beyond the BS of a cell in society.

    • Anonymous says:

      Lost me after the first paragraph. I require punctuation from some writers.

    • Me personally, I absolutely feel I have made the right choice. I am rarely stressed or deeply troubled, as I was when I was working too much.
      I am relatively free, I have much more time for reading or taking long walks in the forest, and even for studying again.
      It has also been better for my health. Even my hair stopped greying and my eyesight got better.

    • And I really couldn’t imagine returning to a regular job anymore. I have been working from home for 6 years now, and I got used to that freedom and comfort too much.
      If I ever had to, I would probably work like crazy for a few months and save enough to quit again. Or just trying to be a hobo go real.

    • As to family life, that never attracted me in the least. So, I am very lucky because I didn’t have to make any compromise there.
      I should mention another benefit of no longer working as a lawyer: people treat me as Andreas, not as Attorney Moser. A lot of people don’t want to have contact with me anymore, but that shows me who wanted to keep in touch only in case they ever needed a lawyer or because of some silly social prestige.

  4. Pingback: Anthony Bourdain, 1956-2018 | Der reisende Reporter

  5. Caryn says:

    There are few things I staunchly believe in; one of these things is the unalienable right of any person to end their life when they see fit.

    The subjective, personal life of an individual is magnitudes greater in depth and complexity than anything else and it deserves absolute respect.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I use to like the guy, but he turned out to be nothing more than another communist pedophile jew.

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